India’s armed forces chief among 13 killed in helicopter crash

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New Delhi – General Bipin Rawat, the chief of India’s armed forces, was among 13 people killed on Wednesday when the military helicopter they were traveling in crashed, the Air Force said.

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They were on their way from an air force base to a hill military college in the southern state of Tamil Nadu when a Russian-made Mi-17V5 helicopter came down near the town of Coonoor.

Local television footage showed rescue teams and army personnel carrying bodies from rubble to steep slopes. Of the 14 people on board, only one survived and was in hospital with injuries.

General Bipin Rawat, seen here at the Army Day parade in January 2018, was among 13 people killed in a helicopter crash on Wednesday.Sajjad Hussain / AFP – Getty Images File
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“It is now learned with deep regret that General Bipin Rawat, (his wife) Mrs Madhulika Rawat and 11 others on board the aircraft have died,” the Air Force said in a statement.

Rawat, 63, was appointed as India’s first Chief of Defense Staff by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in late 2019. The post was established with the aim of integrating the three military services of India – Army, Navy and Air Force.

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Two government sources said several bodies were badly burnt.

Modi said that he was deeply saddened by the death of Rawat. “A true patriot, he contributed greatly to the modernization of our armed forces and security apparatus,” the Prime Minister said.

In a tweet, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh called Rawat’s death “an irreparable loss to our armed forces and the country”.

The Indian Air Force has ordered an inquiry into the cause of the accident.

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India has dozens of Mi-17s in service. They are widely deployed for transporting senior military personnel and government ministers.

Former army chief JJS Singh said, “It is a safe, certified helicopter, I have traveled on it in difficult conditions.”

An infantryman with over four decades of military service, Rawat served on India’s border with China, the disputed Kashmir region and the United Nations mission in Africa, before taking over the Indian Army in late 2016.

In New Delhi, Defense Minister Singh visited Rawat’s official residence and the state broadcaster said Modi had called a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security on Wednesday evening.



Credit: www.nbcnews.com /

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